With the summer holidays in full, parks and green spaces around Hemel Hempstead are filling up with families – but parents are being warned to be aware of an unexpected visitor.
That’s because The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM), a non-native pest species which is harmful to people and animals, has now reached the town.
Wildlife experts say the hairs from the caterpillars and nests of the species can cause painful skin, eye and throat infections in both people and animals. The moth is not harmful.
Council officers are putting up safety notices on any affected trees in the borough.
Although there have only been a couple of reported cases, people are urged to be vigilant especially with young children exploring trees this summer.
Caterpillars and nests are only likely to be found on oak trees.
If you, your child or pet is affected, see a doctor or pet immediately
Councillor Alan Anderson, Dacorum Borough Council’s portfolio holder for environmental services, said: “We’re working with the Forestry Commission to control the spread of this harmful species. If you discover an OPM nest or caterpillar, we ask that you ‘spot it, avoid it, report it’.”
If there is no warning sign pinned on the tree and you find a caterpillar or nest, please report it on the Forest Research website so that it can be officially logged and safely exterminated.
Go to forestresearch.gov.uk
Please do not attempt to exterminate a nest or caterpillar yourself.
This is important both for your own safety, and in case the species you have found is harmless and not OPM.